Witchouse: Blood Coven (2000)
AKA Witchouse 2
Starring Ariauna Albright, Elizabeth Hobgood, Nicholas Lanier, Kaycee Shank, Alexandru Dragoi, Adriana Butoi, Andrew Prine, Serban Celea, Claudiu Trandafir, Jeff Burr, Dave Parker
Directed by J.R. Bookwalter
Expectations: Not much, but hopefully fun like the first one.
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
There’s a general assumption that sequels go down in quality from the original, and that is probably especially true in low-budget horror films. Witchouse: Blood Coven actually steps it up from the first film, with a much more fleshed-out script that delivers an actual story along with its low-budget thrills. The characters aren’t as unique and memorable as the first film, but they feel more realistic. Witchouse: Blood Coven has more in common with a traditional film that its cheapo predecessor, and so your enjoyment of it will depend on your particular leanings. For me, I appreciated the effort made, and I think it’s a better film than Witchouse, but I still think the first film wins in terms of overall entertainment.
The story of Witchouse: Blood Coven is not directly related to the first Witchouse, and that’s as it should be. I like the idea of similarly themed films grouped by an overarching title, and with the thin story running through Witchouse, it seems like a natural fit here. Anyway, Witchouse: Blood Coven takes place in Covington, Massachusetts, and it follows a university professor (Ariauna Albright) and her team of students as they investigate four unmarked graves unearthed during construction of a shopping mall. Something tells me this town has a few secrets…
The film opens with video camcorder footage, but thankfully a few minutes in we switch to 35mm. For anyone questioning the beauty of actual film, you really should see it cut together with late ’90s video camera footage. Most of the movie is 35mm (and it looks very nice), but there are Blair Witch-style video camera sections here and there, too. The quality of this footage doesn’t age well, but it serves its purpose to put us in a first-person perspective for certain scenes. I wouldn’t say that they’re especially effective in enhancing the fear of the characters in these moments, and they definitely aren’t necessary, but I imagine Charles Band wanted something to capitalize on the newfound potential in first-person horror. The “people on the street” section is quite fun, though, with cameos from directors Jeff Burr (Puppet Master 4), Dave Parker (The Dead Hate the Living!), and others that are quite amusing.
Where the first Witchouse was all stuck inside the mansion, Witchouse: Blood Coven is able to utilize lots of outdoor locations that enhance the feeling of realism. The film was shot in Romania, but not having been to either Massachusetts or Romania, I thought it was convincing enough. My favorite touch was the tiny Boston University sign above the windshield of the professor’s van, which had me laughing out loud at its absurdity. The film is filled with lots of these fun, low-budget touches that entertain alongside the film’s mysterious narrative.
As weird as this might sound, I think Witchouse: Blood Coven actually loses some steam in its third act when things start going wild. This section is much more similar to a traditional Full Moon feature and it felt a bit at odds with the film’s slow build. I enjoyed it, but it kinda felt like this movie deserved something better than Full Moon thrills. There is an obvious effort to echo the first Witchouse in this section, and I would have preferred something entirely unique. Regardless, it’s still fun, and I especially enjoyed the make-up for the minions and their red, glowing eyes.
Witchouse: Blood Coven was J.R. Bookwalter’s first directorial work for Full Moon, and he delivers a film that surprised and entertained me. Ariauna Albright and Andrew Prine both get a lot of range to cover, and they deliver great performances through all the shifts of their characters. Definitely recommended to Full Moon fans.
Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie, I’ll be checking in with David DeCoteau’s side-sequel to his Brotherhood series… 2004’s The Sisterhood! See ya then!